Thirty Years War ends in 1630

From C.V. Wedgwood's wonderful _The Thirty Years War_, discussing the unsuccessful peace conference at Regensburg in 1630:

"Had Maximilian [of Bavaria] refused to help or be helped by the French agents... had the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg accepted the defeat of Protestantism instead of making an eleventh hour stand, there might have been peace in Germany. The King of Sweden might have withdrawn and the war between Bourbon and Hapsburg might have been fought out in France and Italy. Surrender in 1630 might have saved Germany from eighteen more years of war, and although the settlement would have been very different from that [of] 1648, it would not have been appreciably worse. Surrender in 1630 would have meant the abandonment of the German Liberties [but] these Liberties were the privileges of ruling princes... and had nothing to do with the rights of peoples. Popular liberty was unknown before, during and after the war.

"Ferdinand's victory would have meant the centralization of the Empire under Austrian control, the establishment of one despotism rather than several in the German speaking world. It would have meant a heavy defeat for Protestantism but not its extinction... Ferdinand's organization was already proving unequal to the execution of the Edict of Restitution, and even had he achieved all that was implied by that document, Protestantism would not have been extinguished. There remained Saxony and Brandenburg and the undisputed fragments of Wuerttemberg, Hesse, Baden and Brunswick.

"It would be absurd to pretend that [such a victory] would have been an unmixed blessing... The power of the Hapsburg would overshadow all Europe. Yet in point of fact the continuation of the struggle led only to the no less threatening dominance of the Bourbon."

Okay, I think Wedgwood is being optimistic on some points here, but it's not a crazy POD. Ferdinand came to Regensburg willing to negotiate for victory; most obviously, he was willing to throw Wallenstein overboard. If the princes had been as willing, the war might have ended there. As Wedgwood points out, though, Maximilian was a treacherous weasel, while John of Saxony had a sudden attack of conscience-driven stubbornness at the worst possible time.

So, handwave these away, and say a settlement is reached before Gustavus Adolphus lands in the north.

Now what?


Doug M.
 
I've been reading the same book and I agree it's very good, although I don't know how much Maximilian's refusal to accept French assistance really would unhinge Richelieu's aspirations to destabilizing the Habsburgs, or his use of Gustavus II Adolphus to that end. But if we take the point of departure that's offered here, then Ferdinand is in a weak rather than a strong position in a way. I forget what precisely Wallenstein is doing in 1630, but regardless of whether he is leading Ferdinand's army or not he's immensely wealthy, hugely landed, and he's basically financing that army. Ferdinand's power is preciously slight without Wallenstein, and it's easy to imagine Ferdinand failing to give Wallenstein all that he asks in the way of a final payment at the war's end and triggering a new revolt on Wallenstein's part, one which he really has very little hope of stopping.

This is of course the crazy nature of the Thirty Years War: the parties always closest to victory are the most over-extended and hence the most vulnerable. And this is of course part of what keeps all the gamblers in their seats at the table: everyone thinks that the pendulum will eventually swing back in their direction if they wait long enough.

This could be a pretty interesting discussion.

BTW, I actually think Maximillian comes off better in Wedgwood's account than John. Maximillian actually has a set of causes that he essentially tries to remain faithful to: the German liberties, the Catholic Church and Bavaria, and he struggles to reconcile these even when they don't line up. John of Saxony by contrast is worse than worthless, switching back and forth so often with such uncertainty that in the end Saxony gets it from all sides even though that seems to be his only fidelity.

In a previous discussion of the Thirty Years War it was remarked that someone didn't really understand how Gustavus II Adolphus could be so embraced the way he was. Quite simply, comparing him to Germany's crop of ruling princes at the end of the 1620s makes it only too clear.
 
If Maximillian does so, he would be acting against his own interests. What motive would he have?
Well, OTL he switched sides just a few years later -- became a good imperialist, and married Ferdinand's teenage daughter.

So it's hardly unthinkable.


Doug M.
 
If the war ends in 1630 with a Habsburg victory, how would be the agreements? Who gets what? Does Wallenstein remain as Duke of Mecklenburg?
 
Wallenstein keeps Mecklenburg, sure. Why not?

The Edict of Restitution is a huge sticking point. I think Fred has to give it up, which probably requires a personality transplant.


Doug M.
 
What Bavaria, Saxony and Brandenburg have in common is that they don't want to establish the precedent of an Emperor who reassigns territories to rulers as it pleases him. Ferdinand really overreached himself even by imposing the ban and tossing Frederick out of the Palatinate (even with the justification that he had made war within the Empire against the Emperor), but he at least did that constitutionally, and Maximilian was willing to side with that and give it support--before Wallenstein became a superpower unto himself within this world. Now, if Wallenstein keeps Mecklenburg it increases his power still further. And thus each prince of the empire holds his realm only by virtue of the good graces of the Emperor. That crosses the crucial threshhold of a Germany that is a nation-state rather than a collection of principalities, which is against the interests of every single other prince of the HRE.

And how far would Richelieu go to prevent a united Germany under the Habsburgs? French entreaties to Gustavus to intervene would be under these circumstances downright pathetic. Or else Richelieu would actually enter the fight directly earlier than he did in our timeline.

And remember, 4 is the HRE's 270: one reason Ferdinand is suffering pressure in this time is that the Electors of the Empire can't seem to get around to electing his son King of the Romans (The HRE equivalent to Prince of Wales), namely because Maximilian, plus one of the ecclesiastical princes (I forget which), plus the two remaining Protestant Electors are basically barring the door in an effort to force the Emperor to make peace and dismiss Wallenstein. And the reason the Emperor doesn't do so has as much to do with fear of Wallenstein as it does anything else.

Wallenstein keeps Mecklenburg, sure. Why not?

The Edict of Restitution is a huge sticking point. I think Fred has to give it up, which probably requires a personality transplant.


Doug M.
 
What Bavaria, Saxony and Brandenburg have in common is that they don't want to establish the precedent of an Emperor who reassigns territories to rulers as it pleases him.
Well, Bavaria and Saxony had both already benefited from the Emperor reassigning territories. As rewards for joining the dogpile on the hapless Winter King, John George had gained Lusatia, while Maximilian had taken the Palatinate.

Now Lusatia was at least Ferdinand's to give -- if you accepted that he and not Winter King Fred was the rightful King of Bohemia, then he was free to assign a Bohemian province to his ally. But there was no precedent, and precious little legal justification, for stripping an Elector of his lands and title.

Once that precedent was accepted, though -- well, there really wasn't a strong legal argument against the Emperor taking the lands of a rebel and giving them to a favorite.

Maximilian's response was "everybody ignore that I doubled the size of my lands, okay? and let's all go back to the precedents of 1620 or earlier." John George at least had the dignity not to attend the conference.


And how far would Richelieu go to prevent a united Germany under the Habsburgs? French entreaties to Gustavus to intervene would be under these circumstances downright pathetic. Or else Richelieu would actually enter the fight directly earlier than he did in our timeline.
I think the former -- Richelieu wasn't ready for a direct fight yet.

The problem is, if the great princes are united behind the Emperor, or are at least friendly neutrals, it's a lot harder for Gustavus to get a firm foothold.


Doug M.
 
I don't think the princes actually were as responsible for killing this thing as some others here- the princes can be convinced to sign this peace. Rather, I think there are two other problems that Ferdinand is going to find difficult to massage:

The first is going to be the Edict of Restitution, which he has whole-heartedly embraced. I think Ferdinand is basically facing a situation where he can have leadership of Germany, but only if he abandons the Edict. Is he capable of doing that? I think OTL he proved himself unwilling to.

The second problem is Wallenstein. He has made himself a one-man Department of Defense, paying for and logistically supporting the Imperial Army. He was successfully retired in OTL in 1630, but if the French succeed in getting Sweden to intervene, then Wallenstein will come back into play. I think that if Wallenstein becomes a problem, then Ferdinand might make the decision to permanently retire Wallenstein, as he did OTL two years later.

Ferdinand's unwillingness to compromise on the Edict led to Wallenstein's assassination (among other things). I think that single issue would probably be enough to derail the whole thing.
 
Well first off there was the precedent of the First Schmalkaldic War, in which Charles V stripped the Electoral dignity and much of the lands of the Ernestine Wettins and assigned it to the Albertine Wettins. What happened to poor poor poor poor unjustly abused John Frederick the Magnanimous though had been constitutionally done: the Emperor imposed the ban and called on a neighboring prince to execute it (Maurice). In the case of Frederick of Bohemia Ferdinand followed the constitution to the letter, securing the support of more than the minimum required number of Electors to ratify his decision. By contrast, Mecklenburg wasn't the product of any constitutionally recognized process, it was literally a guy marching in with an army, saying he has the Emperor's authority, and kicking out the rulers.

So of course the prince-electors are going to have one opinion with respect to a procedure for stripping a prince of territory and title that gives them a role and occurs through really the operation of law. And another entirely when it's a guy with enough guns coming and kicking you out. And the fear of the guy with the most guns (Wallenstein) was dominating German politics at this point.



Well, Bavaria and Saxony had both already benefited from the Emperor reassigning territories. As rewards for joining the dogpile on the hapless Winter King, John George had gained Lusatia, while Maximilian had taken the Palatinate.

Now Lusatia was at least Ferdinand's to give -- if you accepted that he and not Winter King Fred was the rightful King of Bohemia, then he was free to assign a Bohemian province to his ally. But there was no precedent, and precious little legal justification, for stripping an Elector of his lands and title.

Once that precedent was accepted, though -- well, there really wasn't a strong legal argument against the Emperor taking the lands of a rebel and giving them to a favorite.

Maximilian's response was "everybody ignore that I doubled the size of my lands, okay? and let's all go back to the precedents of 1620 or earlier." John George at least had the dignity not to attend the conference.




I think the former -- Richelieu wasn't ready for a direct fight yet.

The problem is, if the great princes are united behind the Emperor, or are at least friendly neutrals, it's a lot harder for Gustavus to get a firm foothold.


Doug M.
 
Gustav II Adolf wanted a war and had already prepared for it. Fresh out of 29 years of war with Poland, he got the riskdag to approve, with the comment."better we tie our horses at their fences than they at ours" and went off. He would have landed in Germany even if there had been a peace treaty.
 
As early as 1628 Danish and Swedish forces defended the city of Stralsund against Wallenstein. As Wallensteins forces retreated from the city the Swedes stayed on. The Danes went for another campaign on the Oder and finally made peace with the Emperor in 1629. The Swedes secured Rügen that year to have a springboard into Germany!

If war is to be concluded in 1630 Gustavus had to be satisfied someway or he'd take himself whats sought. The performance of Wallensteins troops in 1628 certainly woudn't deter him! ;)
 
Well first off there was the precedent of the First Schmalkaldic War, in which Charles V stripped the Electoral dignity and much of the lands of the Ernestine Wettins and assigned it to the Albertine Wettins.
! Really. I didn't realize that had been done by Imperial fiat -- I thought the Wettins had agreed to it among themselves! Huh.


By contrast, Mecklenburg wasn't the product of any constitutionally recognized process, it was literally a guy marching in with an army, saying he has the Emperor's authority, and kicking out the rulers.
Well, but he did have the Emperor's authority -- Ferdinand gave him Mecklenburg. And there was no question the Dukes of Mecklenburg were rebels against the Emperor.

And the fear of the guy with the most guns (Wallenstein) was dominating German politics at this point.
Except that OTL Ferdinand was willing to fire him to get what he wanted. (Which turned out to be an awful mistake, as it left him without Wallenstein just as Gustavus Adolphus was landing in the North, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Maybe we should pause and consider the POD. Woodward assumes peace was possible if John George and Maximilian had been, respectively, less stubborn and less of a goddamn weasel. This is at first glance attractive -- everyone agrees that the character failings of these two were to a great degree responsible for prolonging the war -- but it's not very elegant; first, it really requires a double POD (I don't a single change that can bank-shot them both) and second, if we go the easy route and say "personality transplant", then we've probably derailed the first twelve years of the war too.

So maybe the "cleaner" POD is Ferdinand having a sudden attack of good sense and giving up the Edict of Restitution? Yes, it's inconsistent with his character; handwave it. Would that do the trick?


Doug M.
 
So maybe the "cleaner" POD is Ferdinand having a sudden attack of good sense and giving up the Edict of Restitution? Yes, it's inconsistent with his character; handwave it. Would that do the trick?
I know that random deaths are not a good solution, but what about make Ferdinand II die at that time? Wouldn't his son be more willing to reach a compromise?
 
It's at the point now where I can just start reposting the words in different order and hope that at some point you read what you evidently have not read thus far. I've already said everything I have to say, but evidently you find yourself incapable of reading what it is I've said.

The imperial ban is not the Emperor deciding to take a prince's title and land and just doing so: it is an operation of law that happens by specific procedures, and certainly as it was practiced in the case of Frederick it was done so with the consent of the prince-electors.

And if I really have to spell out for you in any more painstaking detail precisely why prince-electors of the empire would justifiably be resistant to having the emperor be able to depose princes other than by the specific operations of law set forth already, specific operations of law that requires their consent, then I really am wasting my time.

And by the way, setting sarcasm aside, if the imposition of the imperial ban in the Schmalkaldic War is so familiar to you, then why did you say there was no precedent for stripping an Elector of lands and title, which was precisely what happened there?

! Really. I didn't realize that had been done by Imperial fiat -- I thought the Wettins had agreed to it among themselves! Huh.




Well, but he did have the Emperor's authority -- Ferdinand gave him Mecklenburg. And there was no question the Dukes of Mecklenburg were rebels against the Emperor.



Except that OTL Ferdinand was willing to fire him to get what he wanted. (Which turned out to be an awful mistake, as it left him without Wallenstein just as Gustavus Adolphus was landing in the North, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Maybe we should pause and consider the POD. Woodward assumes peace was possible if John George and Maximilian had been, respectively, less stubborn and less of a goddamn weasel. This is at first glance attractive -- everyone agrees that the character failings of these two were to a great degree responsible for prolonging the war -- but it's not very elegant; first, it really requires a double POD (I don't a single change that can bank-shot them both) and second, if we go the easy route and say "personality transplant", then we've probably derailed the first twelve years of the war too.

So maybe the "cleaner" POD is Ferdinand having a sudden attack of good sense and giving up the Edict of Restitution? Yes, it's inconsistent with his character; handwave it. Would that do the trick?


Doug M.
 
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The imperial ban is not the Emperor deciding to take a prince's title and land and just doing so: it is an operation of law that happens by specific procedures, and certainly as it was practiced in the case of Frederick it was done so with the consent of the prince-electors.
I grasp that. What I'm groping for is whether this procedure properly applied to all nobles of the Empire, or just to Electors. IMS the Emperor had some authority over deciding questions of inheritance and transfer -- I believe this was through a council or judicial body, but it did exist. (Going from memory here, there were two pseudo-judicial councils, one purely Imperial appointees, the other not; but the not-all-appointees one had stopped functioning in the early 1600s because the Catholics wouldn't accept Protestant members.)


And by the way, setting sarcasm aside, if the imposition of the imperial ban in the Schmalkaldic War is so familiar to you, then why did you say there was no precedent for stripping an Elector of lands and title, which was precisely what happened there?
Dr. Waterhouse, I'm sorry if I've managed to annoy you. But in this case, you're assuming your conclusion. I never said I was familiar with the imposition of the ban in the Schmalkaldic war! Only that I thought the shift from one branch of the Wettins to the other was voluntary.

Finally, a point of clarification: you seem to be saying, IIUC, that giving Wallenstein the Duchy of Mecklenburg was a huge sticking point. Do you really think this was more important than the Edict of Restitution?


Doug M.
 
No, I'm sorry I became cross.

You are correct with respect to inheritance. The Emperor I think could "embargo" (I believe that's the phrase) a princely inheritance if there was a dispute. This is how Rudolf involved himself in the controversy over the Julich succession before the Thirty Years War. The precise mechanics as to how that works escapes me. I don't see that process as being implicated in Mecklenburg though, because it wasn't a disputed succession, and wasn't a succession at all really if I recall correctly.

Finally, the importance of the Edict versus Mecklenburg is different to different players. If you're the Lutheran Elector of Saxony and the Calvinist Elector of Brandenburg, the Edict is a very real problem. If you're the Catholic Duke of Bavaria, it's not so much a problem. It's in fact awesome. Now map this out onto the votes of the prince-electors. Because Palatinate has been switched with Bavaria, there are only two Protestant votes left among the prince-electors. However, both those Protestants, plus Bavaria, plus I think the prince-elector of Mainz (I think that's the one with whom Maximilian was close), and you have four prince-electors, enough to hold the line against Ferdinand in the selection of his son as King of the Romans. So the Edict is important, but not important to enough people to carry a majority. Stopping Wallenstein? That commands the majority.

In the end, the best way to end the war quickly in the way Wedgwood is talking about in the passage that started this is to buy off France so that it doesn't give its support to the Protestants through the agency of Sweden, which is really before France's direct intervention the only effective military force the Protestants are able to field. However, what could the Habsburgs offer France to compensate it for the menace of a Germany united under a much more powerful Emperor, and much stronger Habsburg dynasty? And what would France accept for this the loss of which would be acceptable to the Habsburgs?

Like I said, I think Wedgwood misidentifies the mechanism in the passage: because satisfying Bavaria, Brandenburg and Saxony doesn't solve the problem anyway if the French are still willing to continue their efforts, and there are angry Protestants running loose eager to follow Gustavus Adolphus when he comes down from Sweden.

I grasp that. What I'm groping for is whether this procedure properly applied to all nobles of the Empire, or just to Electors. IMS the Emperor had some authority over deciding questions of inheritance and transfer -- I believe this was through a council or judicial body, but it did exist. (Going from memory here, there were two pseudo-judicial councils, one purely Imperial appointees, the other not; but the not-all-appointees one had stopped functioning in the early 1600s because the Catholics wouldn't accept Protestant members.)




Dr. Waterhouse, I'm sorry if I've managed to annoy you. But in this case, you're assuming your conclusion. I never said I was familiar with the imposition of the ban in the Schmalkaldic war! Only that I thought the shift from one branch of the Wettins to the other was voluntary.

Finally, a point of clarification: you seem to be saying, IIUC, that giving Wallenstein the Duchy of Mecklenburg was a huge sticking point. Do you really think this was more important than the Edict of Restitution?


Doug M.
 
But he'd already arrived!
You then need Richelieu to cut funding Gustavus, but of course he already have his stepping stone into the HREGN. Cutting funds would be important, but then Gustavus would soon adopt Wallensteins method of plundering the land to sustain his army.
 
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